RALEIGH (Aug. 18, 2017) — Lackluster economic performance in North Carolina continued in August, according to new labor market data released today. North Carolina’s headline unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, and the lack of job growth continues to create barriers to employment across much of the state.
North Carolina is not alone in contending with an economy that is far from fully healthy. The rate of job growth has slowed over the last year, both in North Carolina and across the country. Employment increased by 1.5 percent from August of 2016 through last month, which falls short of a 2.7 percent growth rate posted between 2015 and 2016, and the 3.7 percent growth rate over the same time span of the previous year.
“North Carolina never truly recovered from the Great Recession, and this kind of anemic economic performance is not going to fill the hole left by the worst economic calamity in generations,” said Patrick McHugh, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “We’re creating jobs—just not fast enough to create opportunities for everyone that wants to work.” Here are a few of the indicators that point to a dip in economic growth:
- Job creation through July in 2017 was slower than the previous two years: While North Carolina continued to add jobs in the first eight months of 2017, the rate of growth failed to live up to the relatively modest rates of growth posted in the previous two years. North Carolina employment expanded by 0.6 percent between January and August of this year, compared to 1.3 percent growth in the first eight months of 2016 and 1.7 percent in 2015. Given North Carolina’s mediocre economic performance over the past decade, it is particularly alarming to see that we are falling below even the low bar that has been set in recent years.
- Recovery in the level of employment has stalled: North Carolina remains well below the pre-recession level of employment, and the slow progress toward recovering to pre-recession norms has essentially stopped. In August, 58.7 percent of North Carolinians were employed, precisely where we stood for the final three months of 2016, and well below the pre-recession norm of 62-63 percent. This is further evidence that employment growth is not meeting the demand for jobs.
For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s weekly Prosperity Watch report.
The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.